Capital Assessment Rating Begins

It’s that time of the year again when towns begin the evaluation and review process for departmental capital needs. It is no small job and one that the Marion Capital Improvement Planning Committee has now begun in earnest.

On January 23, the committee headed by Norman Hills with members Paul Naiman, Casey Barros, Carol Sanz, Ted North, Dick Gilberti, and Stephen Cushing reviewed the project list and discussed the scoring process.

The multi-million dollar list contains: Pumping station repairs – $14,195; Atlantis Drive Fire Safety system – $17,775; Washburn Park restroom repairs – $11,395; Sippican School floor renovations – $50,000; Sippican School EMS communications (as required by new state testing procedures) – $18,000; Marine/Harbormaster new trucks – $63,000; Highway Department one-ton diesel pick-up – $56,000; Highway Department FY14 pavement plan – $273,000; Highway Department general road repairs – $60,000; Water Department one-ton 4×4 pick-up – $56,000; Sewer Department generator replacement – $35,000; and for the Fire Department, a new pumper – $540,000; new ambulance – $237,000; engine 2 repairs – $20,000; two Lucas CPR devices – $28,000; and computer software – $27,000.

Another Highway Department line item titled ‘NPDES Permit Analysis’ was kept on the list but the price tag is an evolving number. As a placeholder, the committee used $450,000 but a firmer number will be needed before it can be sent to the Finance Committee for their review.

NPDES stands for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. The Environmental Protection Agency oversees the wastewater discharge of municipal and industrial wastewater facilities, regulating the levels of pollutants discharged and issuing a permit with strict requirements. Marion is appealing the EPA’s findings that call for lower levels of nitrogen discharged and threaten the elimination of the Town’s three sewage lagoons.

Calling for “…further review … but may return,” Hills dropped the following Highway Department projects totaling just over $5 million from the list: MS4 permit assessment; isolated flood area study; Phase 1B construction; and Phase 2 design. Also on hold indefinitely were two Water Department projects. Those projects are well field explore tagged at $50,000 and Mill Street Water Main design at $150,000.

The majority of the capital needs identified by the Town’s departments will be funded through general funds, although enterprise funds may be eyed on several. All requests will require voter approval at Town Meeting in the spring.

In an effort to employ a rating or scoring system from one to 10 for the projects, the committee received a rating sheet that asks critical questions. Those questions are:

1) Is the capital item a matter of regulatory state, federal or local compliance?

2) Is the capital item a matter of public safety?

3) What is the department’s priority for the requested item?

4) Is the capital item request a replacement, upgrade or new item or service?

5) What is the impact of the capital item on the overall operation and maintenance for the department to provide service?

6) How will this capital item be financed?

7) What is the capital item’s lifespan?

Hills counseled the committee to use the same method or thinking process for each request. Their hope is that this part of their work can be wrapped up by the end of February.

The next meeting of the Marion Capital Improvement Committee is scheduled for January 29 at 7:00 pm in the Police Station community meeting room.

By Marilou Newell


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